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Combating anti-Semitism

According to a recent report by the Stephen Roth Institute, there was an increase in anti-Semitic incidents world-wide of 6.6 per cent in 2007 compared with the previous year. Moreover, the number of severe violent attacks rose threefold in 2007. The recent Madoff scandal has inspired a new spate of anti-Semitic pronouncements and vandalism in several countries.

Anti-Semitism is still a deeply-rooted phenomenon in many liberal democracies, despite efforts by governments and independent organisations to tackle it. Hatred against Jews is nowadays also entrenched in many Muslim countries.

   Anti-Semitism in all its forms must be combated vigorously by determined action of governments and civil society.

   Of particular importance are the education of young people, the role of the media, and the action by police and the judiciary in bringing perpetrators of anti-Semitic crimes to justice.

   Governments and international organisations need to provide adequate resources for the fight against hatred, notably by providing security to Jewish communities and by improving education.

   Laws against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism need to be adopted and enforced properly in every country.


Neo-Nazi groups

   In several countries, neo-Nazi groups are gaining ground. Marches and rallies are increasingly being held by extremist organisations. Sometimes, they intentionally pass by Jewish sites or are held to coincide with important Holocaust-era anniversaries.

   All forms and expressions of neo-Nazism, xenophobia and intolerance are unacceptable and have to be condemned.

   The full force of the law needs to be applied to those who are a danger to democracy liberty and Jewish communities.

   Marches by extremist, anti-Semitic neo-Nazi groups should be banned where national laws provide for such a possibility. Where such laws do not exist Government leaders should speak out unequivocally against such groups.


Anti-Zionism = Anti-Semitism

   Anti-Semitism often comes in the form of excessive, unbalanced criticism of Israel, including calls for boycotts of Israeli products, etc. In 2007, a British trade union called for the boycott of Israeli academics. The Paris and Turin book fairs in March and April 2008 were boycotted by many Muslim countries and intellectuals because Israel was invited as the guest of honour.  Institutes of higher learning continue to contemplate boycotts of Israeli academics. In most cases, such expressions of anti-Zionism are simply another form of anti-Semitism

   Israel’s thriving democracy is rightly open to criticism. However, unfair and biased attacks against Israel or Jews supporting Israel need to be condemned and countered.

   Boycotts of Israel in any form are unjustified and unacceptable.

   Subtle media that blurs anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism in order to inflame and exacerbate public dislike of both Israel and Jews should be exposed.

The media and the Internet

   Along with everybody else, extremists are increasingly making use of the internet, the most wide reaching form of mass media. Extremist groups use the internet to advertise themselves and their ideologies, publicise their activities, communicate with their members and raise funds.  Young, impressionable, people are increasingly being misled by hate propaganda disseminated in this way.

   Technological advances have also reduced the cost of producing and distributing books and leaflets and television and radio shows can be produced and broadcast over the internet for little or no cost.

   Governments, regulators, online retailers and internet service providers need to address the proliferation of anti-Semitic and other hate material on the internet and adopt clear guidelines on this issue, especially when children and teenagers and targeted.

   Anti-Semitic broadcasters or newspapers must not benefit from state-funding. Where possible, licenses for TV and radio broadcasters should be granted only if these do not disseminate hate propaganda.

   Self-regulation by internet service providers and online retailers to prevent the spread of anti-Semitic, xenophobic or racist material is the appropriate way to deal with this issue. Online retailers and companies must take their responsibilities seriously, or risk being exposed. It is morally wrong and distasteful to make money with items glorifying the Nazis.

   Companies that knowingly accept the publication, or promote the sale, of anti-Semitic or racist materials on their platforms and websites should be condemned, and in extreme cases boycotted. However, freedom of speech should not be restricted and efforts to combat hate propaganda in the media should not primarily consist of bans and censorship, but through creative use of the internet in support of Israel and the Jewish people.

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